A to Z of Soft Skills: J for Juggling Work and Life
This is the most important thing that we are all grappling with. Almost surgically attached to our devices, unable to switch off and mentally chained to our desks even when we are away.
What is Work life balance?
It is giving equal importance to work and other aspects of one’s life like family, hobbies and other leisure activities. It’s the ability to devote equal hours to work and the rest of one’s life. The art of not letting any aspect suffer at the expense of others.
Why is work life balance important?
Balance is important in anything in life. Juggling effectively between work and life helps live a better life, be more flexible, have time for things that really matter, take time to build quality relationships and have fewer health issues. It ensures that we enjoy every aspect of life to the fullest with enough time for every thing we want to do.
The current status of our work life balance
Before we move on to tips on better work life balance, I’d like to throw light on some disturbing facts about how bad are work life balance is. It’s a sad story world wide. Let’s look at our country.
In a global research by Accenture, this has been harder on Indian women than men. About 70% Indian women said that work life balance was critical for their professional success. Only 40% of the male respondents felt so. Also, almost double the number of Indian women quit due to inflexible hours compared to men. No wonder a new study by Grant Thornton, a global accounting and advisory firm, shows that only 15% of Indian workforce is women compared to the global 35%. What’s more shocking is that a meagre 1.8% of CEOs in India are women. And that’s disgraceful for a country with our population.
Work life balance remains elusive in most metro cities in the country. The extended and arduous commute time adds heavily to make the scale go off balance. The data from Sustainable City Index – a global survey of 100 cities – places Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi among the lowest in work life balance. In fact, the Commuter Pain survey by IBM, led to a parody piece on a work option, “Work from traffic” to combat the legendary traffic of Bengaluru.
Jokes apart, it’s a grim situation and all of us are equally struggling to juggle work and life effectively.
Are you a workaholic?
Given the staggering stats about how bad our work life balance is, it’s important to figure out where we stand before we move on to rectify the problem. Some of the general symptoms of being a workaholic are:
You work longer than the others
You find it hard to switch off
Your relationships suffer because of your work
You have health issues or other bad habits due to work stress
To know your own status, you can take this test: Are you a workaholic?
What can you do it juggle work and life better?
I hope your score on the quiz doesn’t label you a raging workaholic! Even if it does, take heart – here are a few things you can do:
Start small: Giving up complete control over your work once to reach home may make it harder to sustain. So wean off gradually. Maybe try to stay off emails first. And then try to unplug altogether.
Draw your priorities: Look at other areas of your life for what they are worth. Even if you live by yourself, time out to socialise or pursue hobbies is equally important. If you have a family, give them your undivided attention. They are a part of your life and need your time.
Say ‘no’ more often: Saying no is not a bad thing at all. It actually ensures you have time for things that only you can do. This will keep your work within limits of what you can deal with effectively.
Exercise: This not just reduces stress, it also helps cope with anxiety related to disconnecting with work. Let all the feel-good hormones post workout do their magic.
Unplug totally: If you stay away at work for a fixed number of hours, the other aspects of your life also should get the same exclusive time. Totally switching off is one of the best ways to de-stress and be present for your family. Be sure to tell your colleagues not to expect immediate responses to emails and messages. In fact, encourage them also to switch off during non-work hours.
Delegate: Having too much on your plate may be one of the reasons why you can’t catch a breather. I’m sure some of us are paranoid like Monica Geller and believe that if something is done perfectly, we have to do it ourself. But remember, done is better than perfect. Learn to delegate and then let go.
What can organisations do to help employees balance work and life better?
When it comes to work, organisations also need to play an important role in helping their employees stay sane. Here are a few ideas:
– Don’t expect employees to be online and available after office hours
– Offer more remote working options – which isn’t hard in today’s times
– Make flexi-working hours a regular feature
– Make it mandatory for people to take paid time off for annual vacations
– Make scope for different kinds of working styles – flexi, remote, early or late in the day
The extended maternity and paternity leaves are a huge positive step in making it easier for employees to lead more wholesome lives. Remember that enjoying every aspect of pour lives to the fullest is in our hands. No one else can do it for us. And work is just a part of our lives and not our entire lives.
This post is a part of A to Z blogging challenge where I am going to write about 26 soft skills in 26 days and give tips on how to improve on them. If you like these posts, do share them and tell your friends about it.